Game-related ramblings.

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Return To The Witcher 2 Successful

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions. Also, if you are considering playing The Witcher 2, I recommend the original Polish voices with subtitles. They’re just better.

After my first post chronicling my return to the Witcher 2, I imagined I’d have two more, one for each of the two remaining Chapters in the game. But after I finished Chapter 2 I just kept on going, and I’ve now finished the game. Now that I’ve seen both sides of the story, I can write my thoughts on the game as a whole.

If you’re unfamiliar with The Witcher games, you should read my posts about the first game before reading this. And, of course, you should read my earlier post discussing my thoughts on the Prologue and first Chapter of The Witcher 2.

Returning To The Witcher 2

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions. Also, if you are considering playing The Witcher 2, please use the original Polish voices with English (or other appropriate language) subtitles. They are, in my humble opinion, much better than the English voices.

Over the summer, I wrote a bunch of posts about the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. I decided to play them before for my long-delayed second playthrough of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. This was all in preparation for the imminent release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which was originally slated for February. I thought if I played the bonus Adventures over the summer, then I’d have time to get through The Witcher 2 in the fall, and still manage a short break before The Witcher 3 came out. Silly me. Naturally I’ve only had time to get through the first third of The Witcher 2, and February is almost upon us. Fortunately (for me), the Witcher 3 has been pushed back to May, so there’s a chance I’ll actually get through it before the third installment arrives.

Readers unfamiliar with the Witcher series should read my posts about the Adventures first, as they contain copious ruminations on the first game in the series (including an introduction). Returning to the second game now, I am struck by the differences between the two, both good and bad.

The Witcher Adventures: Merry Witchmas

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

Well, this is it: the last Adventure included with The Witcher. To be honest, it took much longer to play and write about these than I expected. But they offered a great opportunity to write extensively about a very interesting game, and I was often impressed with what the fan community had created.

The final Adventure is called Merry Witchmas, and is also by Ifrit, the group responsible for The Wedding. After playing The Wedding I didn’t have very high hopes for this one, but it’s actually much better. Merry Witchmas takes us once again to Vizima’s Temple Quarter, but this time snow is falling as winter approaches. Geralt wants to make a little more money before retiring to Kaer Morhen for the winter, but gets more than he bargained for when he discovers it’s up to him to save (or destroy) the Witchmas holiday.

The Witcher Adventures: The Wedding

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

The next Adventure on the list is The Wedding, which was made by an entire team of modders known as Ifrit. The Wedding sets itself apart from the other adventures by having no combat whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t have any of the myriad game mechanics showcased in the earlier Adventure Deceits, except for a few fistfights. It’s focused solely on conversations, aiming for a silly comedic tone.

Unfortunately, The Wedding also sets itself apart from the other Adventures by being terrible.

The Witcher Adventures: The Wraiths Of Quiet Hamlet

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

The next adventure on the list, The Wraiths of Quiet Hamlet, is by Krzysztof Wiśniowski and his brothers Adam and Jacek, and it earned an honorable mention in D’Jinni Adventure Editor Contest. Like the winner of that contest, Deceits, it repurposes the riverside village location from Chapter IV of the main game, and like Deceits it tells a tale of Geralt arriving in a small village and solving the locals’ problems. So I was surprised at just how different of an experience it is, by virtue of both its writing and its design.

The Witcher Adventures: Deceits

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

I’ve finished with the Adventures made by original developers CD Projekt RED. The next Adventure on the list, Deceits, is by Rafał “Magun” Bielicki, and was the winner of the D’Jinni Adventure Editor Contest. It came packaged with the 2011 v1.5 patch for the main game, and it’s pretty much what I envisioned before I started playing these Adventures: a short tale in which Geralt arrives in a village, offers to solve the villagers’ monster-related problems, and uncovers a few dark secrets along the way.

The Witcher Adventures: Side Effects

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the earlier Adventures, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

After The Price of Neutrality, the next Adventure on the list is Side Effects, also by original developers CD Projekt RED. It was released in 2008 along with the Enhanced Edition of the base game. Like The Price of Neutrality, Side Effects is fully voiced (and again, please use the original Polish voices) and is on par with the main game in terms of production quality. Unlike The Price of Neutrality, Side Effects is not focused on narrative, instead reveling in the pure mechanics of the game.

The Witcher Adventures: The Price Of Neutrality

I’m playing through the bonus Adventures included with The Witcher. Read about the first, along with an introduction to the game, here. Also remember that you can click on images to view larger versions.

The Price of Neutrality, the second Aventure included with The Witcher, was made by original developers CD Projekt RED to accompany the 2008 release of the D’Jinni Adventure Editor for the game. As such, it acts as a demonstration for the capabilities of the editor, and is certainly a much larger production than the minimalist fan-made first Adventure, Damn Those Swamps!. In fact, the quality is more or less identical to that of the original game, with full voice acting (and here’s one more reminder to use the original Polish voices if you play), a new location to explore, monsters to hunt, and difficult decisions to make. After Damn Those Swamps! helped me get back into the swing of controlling Geralt, The Price of Neutrality provided a sizable helping of everything that I liked about the main game.

The Witcher Adventures: Damn Those Swamps! (Plus An Introduction)

As always, you can click on images to view larger versions.

So, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is set to release in February 2015, and I’m pleased to see it’s among the most hotly anticipated upcoming releases. I wrote briefly about the Witcher series more than two years ago, largely to encourage readers to check out The Witcher 2, and noted then that I needed to play through it again. Well, I never did get around to it, and the imminent sequel means I need to get on the ball (no, not that Ball). But before doing that, I decided to revisit the first game. Not to play through the main story again — I remember it well even after several years — but to try out the bonus adventures that now come with every copy of the game. Created by both fans and original developers CD Projekt RED using the game’s D’jinni Adventure Editor, they offer small, standalone stories of Geralt of Rivia, recalling Andrzej Sapkowski’s original short stories.

While playing the first adventure of the bunch, entitled Damn Those Swamps! (renamed from Blight of the Bogs), I was reminded of just how interesting the first Witcher game is. So I decided to start this post with something of an introduction to the game as a whole, before writing about this specific Adventure. Read on!

You Should Play The Witcher 2

Today I heard that the Enhanced Edition of The Witcher 2 was released. I fully intend to return for a second playthrough of The Witcher 2 and I’ll definitely write some posts about it when I do, but as I’ve still got a staggering amount of Skyrim to play and a rather big backlog of other games, that won’t happen for a while. But I did want to make a rare timely post and encourage everyone to play The Witcher 2, now conveniently in Enhanced form and with an Xbox 360 release to boot. It has a fascinating world, a great cast of characters and is full of tough choices with true consequences. Rather than simply leading to a few different endings (although The Witcher 2 has those), the player’s choices actually change the game itself, up to and including a choice between two vastly different second acts. Plus it’s one of the best-looking games I’ve ever seen. Along with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, The Witcher 2 was one of the highlights of 2011.

And this Enhanced Edition is no joke, greatly extending the game’s final chapter with new characters and other content, and featuring a slew of other improvements like a new lighting system. Add that to the earlier 2.0 patch which created a completely new tutorial and added an extra-hard difficulty mode with new items, and you’ve got a significantly improved game compared to the initial release, which was already great. And all of this is free to anyone who’s purchased the game.

If you need further convincing, read on for more (brief) thoughts on the game. Don’t worry, I’ll have more to say when I play it again.

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